Lunch at: Lyttons at Letchworth Hall

A sense of occasion at Lyttons, Food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne enjoys a meal in historical surroundings...

About the restaurant

Letchworth Hall was built in 1625 for Sir Rowland Lytton, lord of the manor of Knebworth and MP for Hertfordshire during the reign of James I. Later converted into a hotel, the building continues to honour its famous forefather in the name of its restaurant – Lyttons.

Atmosphere and decor

Looking out over the hall’s eight acres of mature landscaped grounds, Lyttons has opted for the modern look, with white walls and light furnishings set off by gleaming chandeliers and discreet paintings. It is well cared for – everything is bright, clean and in its place – and comfortable.

Service

Good first impressions were reinforced by the friendly and chatty presence of Rafael, whose air of professionalism ensured the meal progressed smoothly. Fiercely proud of the hall – and of his native village in Spain – he also tells jokes when prompted.

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The menu

Boasting ‘traditional contemporary British and international cuisine’ under the command of chef David Hart, Lyttons offers lunch at �16.95 for two courses or �19.95 for three. There is a good choice of five starters, six mains and six desserts including ice creams and cheese.

To start

Ham hock terrine aside, an imaginative line-up. Wobbly Bottom goat’s cheese fritter with cranberry jam was tempting but lost out to a satisfying dish of mushrooms on toast with garlic, cream and garden herbs as one choice. Caesar salad with the proper fresh anchovies, parmesan and croutons pushed the right buttons across the table.

Main courses

Roast pollock loin with pearl barley and chorizo risotto proved a generous chunk of fish, fresh and well flavoured and well set off by the creamy accompaniment. It was good, but even better was my companion’s choice of Asian spiced crab cakes – two of them and large – with sweet chilli sauce and petit salad. Strangely, they came with chunky hand-cut chips which seemed out of place and in any case were under-cooked.

Desserts

Fresh fruit salad with mint syrup or roasted banana with caramel sauce and passion fruit sorbet were two examples of a nifty hand at work on the puddings. Other choices included dark chocolate tart or apple and cinnamon crumble.

The experience

An enjoyable meal in impressive surroundings – Letchworth Hall retains many of its original features, including a minstrels gallery, Jacobean fireplace and oak panelling and the sense of occasion rubs off. The portions are also generous and the price was a bargain.

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Letchworth Hall HotelLetchworth LaneLetchworth SG6 3NP01462 683747www.letchworth-hall-hotel.com

The cost of this lunch for two was �45.90 including two glasses of wine. Service was extra.

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